Reaching out with Reading Friends


Solihull Libraries, The Core Theatre Solihull and Art at the Heart CIC have teamed up to create Solihull Reading Friends – a programme of free events designed to help people connect and combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Backed by The Reading Agency, the online events – which start on Tuesday 23 February – include storytelling, craft activities, music and dance with workshops for adults, families and children.

Solihull Council’s Cabinet Member for Stronger and Safer Communities, Cllr Alison Rolf, said: “We know that the lockdown and self-isolation measures, crucial to tackling COVID, have unfortunately meant increased loneliness and isolation for many of our residents. I’m delighted that Solihull Libraries, The Core Theatre and Heart CIC have come together to create a programme of free online events to help combat loneliness in such a creative way.”

Local art teachers Mukesh and Kamaljit Kumar of Art at the Heart CIC, who host regular art classes at The Core, will be providing a series of online workshops via Zoom to encourage creativity and mindfulness. Starting on Tuesday 23 February, the workshops focus on storytelling aspects mixed with craft activities. Unfolding Stories workshops use origami to explore stories, words and meanings and the Message in a Bottle workshop encourages participants to tell their own stories about life during lockdown. The artwork created in these sessions will be displayed in the windows of Solihull libraries, including The Core.  These workshops must be booked in advanced at as places are limited.

Families with young children are invited to take part in Storytime LIVE on Wednesday mornings from 10.15am. Broadcast on Facebook Live, library staff will read stories live for your little ones. Starting with Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s ‘Room on the Broom’ on Wednesday 24 February, they will continue weekly through to the end of March.

There will also be storytelling sessions on Fridays at 11am. Run by Sohan Kailey, who teaches regular dance classes at The Core Theatre, these sessions will feature Sohan’s original stories, combined with music, dance, and puppetry to provide family fun and laughter all round!

Lastly, library staff will be working on a pilot project with a self-organised family history group. These sessions will utilise the library’s newspaper subscriptions, currently available to library members free of charge from home, to discover and share local and family history stories.

For more information visit and or follow The Core Theatre Solihull, Solihull Libraries and Art at the Heart CIC on social media.